Legislative Update 2/18/19
Reminder: Georgia March SNAP Distribution:

50% of benefits on March 2nd
50% on regularly scheduled date (March 5th-23rd)
There has been some confusion because each state has their own distribution schedule. The state has not yet reached out to the recipients. We will send information you can use for your customers.

GFIA Weekly Legislative Report...... Legislative Days 12-16

  • Governor Kemp Introduces Bill to Lower Healthcare Costs
  • Which State Regulation Would You Slash?
  • House Regulated Industry Committee Hears Details on Three Tier System
  • Bill to Require More Online Retailers to Pay Sales Tax Passes Committee
  • Why Do We Report on Casinos and Horse Racing Bills?
  • Additional Legislative Action for Days 12-16

As the pace at the capitol continues to pick up, the challenge for a lobbyist is how to be in more than one place at a time. Last week, the House Regulated Industries Committee, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Health and Human Services Committee all met at the same time! Fortunately, the GFIA works with a coalition of industry leaders to cover our issues. The GFIA team of Kathy Kuzava and Sheila Humberstone works closely with the Georgia Association of Convenience stores, Georgia Bev, the Georgia Retail Association, the Georgia Pharmacy Association, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and other business groups to best serve our members.

Governor Kemp Introduces Bill to Lower Healthcare Costs

  "The Patients First Act," is the Governor’s bill that authorizes the Department of Community Health to apply for two waivers with the goal of "lowering insurance premiums, enhancing access to quality care, and improving health outcomes in every part of our state," according to Governor Kemp. First, the bill would allow the state to seek a waiver from the federal government to change Medicaid in Georgia. It would also allow for a similar waiver for the insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act. Governor Kemp says he recognizes that private healthcare costs are killing hardworking Georgians and the bill’s number one goal is to lower private healthcare costs.
Which State Regulation Would You Slash?

On the campaign trail, Governor Kemp used a chainsaw to demonstrate his goal of cutting regulations. Last week, he assigned the “Georgians First Commission” and tasked this committee of 18 to study red tape and bureaucracy and to make recommendations on changes needed to foster Georgia’s business growth. We appreciate Governor Kemp’s commitment to cutting taxes and slashing regulations. We will certainly be giving this committee input from our heavily regulated grocery members. Send Kathy Kuzava your ideas!
House Regulated Industry Committee Hears Details onThree Tier System

House Regulated Industries Committee Chair Alan Powell, (R- Hiawassee), used his scheduled meeting to give new committee members an education on Georgia’s three tier system. Industry representatives from all tiers presented to the committee. GFIA's Kathy Kuzava gave examples on our changing industry and the increased demand for convenience from our customers. She told the committee that Georgia can keep the three tier system in tact while modernizing Georgia laws to respond to our customers’ demands.

Kuzava brought up the current frustration that is preventing retailers from offering grocery pick up of beer and wine to our customers due to the harsh penalties for errors. (We would like to see penalties for curbside transactions be equal to those in the stores.) She discussed the desire to have a delivery option and also educated the committee members on our desire for parity when considering legislation.
Bill to Require More Online Retailers to Pay Sales Tax Passes Committee
HB 182 , which would add 16 million in state and local tax revenue passed a House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, giving another much-needed victory to brick and mortar retailers who face the daily challenge of competing with on-line retailers. HB182 would reduce the threshold from $250,000 to $100,000 in sales before requiring an out of state retailer to collect and remit Georgia sales tax.

Last year, state legislation passed requiring online retailers that make at least $250,000 in sales or 200 individual sales a year in Georgia to collect and remit sales taxes. They had an option of sending “tax due” notices each year to customers who spend at least $500 on their sites, with a copy sent to the Georgia Department of Revenue. HB182 would also due away with that option. Read the AJC story for more details.
Why Do We Report on Casinos and Horse Racing Bills?

Good question! Parity is the request I make whenever I am talking to a legislator. If another business establishment is allowed to sell beer and wine 24/7, then we believe our retailers should be able to sell during their business hours. The casino and horse racing bills would grant out of state businesses additional opportunities to take care of their customers, so we monitor these issues.

Budget Work Continues
Do you know that by law, the ONLY thing that the legislators are required to do is to pass a state budget? Last week, the House Appropriations Committee began their work on the FY20 budget. Committees heard from State Agencies regarding proposed additional funding as well as funding reductions. Committees also allowed the public to provide comment and feedback on the proposed budget. The Senate Appropriations is scheduled to take up the amended budget Tuesday.

Interested in seeing more details for the week?